Benog Tibba Circuit Trek 2017
Day Trip Itinerary
THE TREK : LIBRARY – CLOUD’S END – BENOG HILL – MOUNTAIN QUAIL SANCTUARY – DHOBHI GHAT – MURRAY PUMPING STATION – TIBETAN SCHOOL LIBRARY
Waverly to Park Chungi
Approx. 3 km hike
TrailHikers invites you to Benog Hill Trek 2017 – a long full day hike in Mussoorie, rich with historical, environmental and botanical insights that will delight the historian as well as a nature lover. The walk takes one past the fine colonial building of Savoy Hotel (the biggest in the Himalayas) and the exotic but authentic French lines of chateau, beautifully preserved but not open to public. The road doubles back at Modern School and brings you to Waverley Convent, one of Mussoorie’s oldest and most famous girl’s schools. The motor road walk from Waverley to Park Chungi is a level 3 km that passes through the unspoilt jungle preserved by virtue of belonging to private estates. In the nick of time, the Supreme Court banned resort developers from axing these forests.
Clouds End Forest Resort
Near the old Chungi is Leopard’s Lodge, a ruin that marks the residence of the famous Delhi commissioner Fraser. The building of Cloud End bungalow, isolated and immaculately girldled by oak forest, was supervised by one of the first colonial travel writers, Fanny Parkes, in 1838. The present proprietor of Cloud End Forest Resort has made a sincere attempt to create a resort that combines its original ambience with latest eco-friendly regard for the surroundings. There is an outdoor restaurant that functions during the Mussoorie season.
Old limestone quarries
It seems hard to believe that limestone trucks once ran up and down the sheer mountain side of Benog. A public outcry saved Benog from the fate of Hathipaon (adjoining Everest’s estate) that was decapitated for its limestone, considered amongst the purest on the planet. So frenetic and irresponsible was the urge to quarry it that all eco-sense was abandoned and the Supreme Court had to intervene to enforce a ban. This eastern side of Benog has now been declared the Mountain Quail Sanctuary and, thankfully, new plantations have sprung up to obscure the limestone roads. The mountain quail was last sighted here in 1880’s. It is believed that this bird species, assumed, extinct, has been re-sighted in another area of Uttarakhand.
Start at Clouds End
Enter forest trail
TrailHikers organizes this day trek which involves walking between 15-20 km. This means a long day, but only half a distance if you use transport to and from Cloud’s End. If you wish you can start from Library (Kitabghar), a fine victorian building maintained by Hugh and Collen Gantzer, which presides over Gandhi Chowk at the western end of Mussoorie’s Mall road. It is a 6 km walk to Cloud’s End through a well forested, mainly level ridge, west of Mussoorie.
Climb the peak (2,250 m)
To get your trekking money’s worth, walk on the main road from the Library, past the Savoy Hotel. The road doubles back at Modern School and brings you to Waverley. Just beyond the gates, you get an overview of the route that lies way ahead. To the west lies the solitary peak of Benog Tibba. Also visible is your return route, culminating in the yelow roof of the Happy Valley Tibbetan Monastary. Now note the sheer plummeting of the eastern face of Benog, and hope your knees will be warmed well enough to tackle it by the time you get there. From Waverley to Park Chungi is a beautiful, level, 3 km forested road.
Jwala Devi Temple
On the mountain top
At Park Chungi, there is a shop and piped drinking water. The shortest way to Everest’s Park Estate- which occupies the ridge overlooking the Doon- is to follow the over-grown, quarry road uphill, taking appropriate short-cuts to cut off the corners (like all pragmatic hill people). The ridge walk to Cloud’s End from Everest’s Estate is another 3 km through the pristine jungle. At Cloud’s End, turn north, descending to a narrow saddle straddling limestone cliffs. Then, swing east to traverse a well aligned path (3km) up to the southern, bald face of the mountain known to the British as ‘Ben Og’. Benog gives great views of the snow peaks and the River Yamuna. The northern face is so steep and thickly forested that it hosts the ‘ghoral’, a mountain goat once quite common in these hills but now almost extinct.
Murray Pumping Station
Murray Pumping Station has machines which are more than 100 years old from the colonial era, some of them are still working. This pumping station is still the backbone of water supply in Mussoorie.
Colonial machinery still working
From Benog you can either return via Cloud’s End and the motor road to Mussoorie, or make an adventurous descent down the eastern face (facing Mussoorie) by a pagdandi (faint foot-path) to the old stone quarries. Continue down near-vertical roads, built for high-geared limestone trucks that once zigzagged crazily to Dhobhi Ghat, famous for its gushing water springs. From Dhobhi Ghat, one of Mussoorie’s least visited and magical corners (not to be confused with Woodstock Dhobhi Ghat), to avoid a long detour, opt for a 1-hr climb up the eastern flank of Mussoorie’s Happy Valley (following the pipeline) through the forest. It will bring you to Murray Pumping Station, with its still-working colonial machinery. There is a jeepable road to Company Bagh, but it is just as quick to keep ascending by the original bridle path to emerge at the Tibbetan Central School. There is a reason for the big Tibbetan settlement here, mostly built in the authentic Tibetan style. When the Dalai Lama first fled Tibet, he took up residence here, at Birla House. From Happy Valley, a level, well forested motor road returns you to the Library after 4 km.
Mountain Quail Sanctuary
Mussoorie Wildlife Sanctuary
Benog forest region was established as Mountain Quail Sanctuary in September 1993. The sanctuary was named after Mountain Quail, a Himayalan bird which is now extinct in the region. This forest has a rare species of Himalayan goat known as Himalayan Goral or Ghural, found at higher alitudes. Also known as Benog wildlife reserve, this region has some amazing nature walks, rich flora & fauna and an adventurous hike to the Benog Tibba peak (2,250m). It is a scenic nature trail & a learning experience for nature lovers of all age groups.
Forest department charges entry fees per person given below :
Entry fees @ ₹ 150 per person (payable at forest office at Dhobighat)
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